The 1939 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens was themed the ‘World of Tomorrow.’ Visitors came away with visions of radio-controlled highways, mechanical milking machines, and the 7-foot-tall Westinghouse robot. Many also left with Fair memorabilia, from the pins given away at the Futurama exhibition that read ‘I have seen the future,’ to more costly souvenirs, such as silver spoons, porcelain dishes, and the silk handkerchief featured here.
Printed in orange, green, and brown on a yellow ground, this handkerchief illustrates several of the Fair’s most celebrated structures. On the left is the Fountain Lake Amphitheatre, and on the right is the famous Heinz dome. In the central medallion are the 610-foot tall Trylon and 200-foot wide Perisphere, an exhibition building that housed a model city designed by Henry Dreyfuss. These structures formed the focal point of the fair’s central promenade, and were reproduced by the millions on Fair memorabilia.
Mae Colburn is a master’s student in the Parsons-Cooper Hewitt History of Decorative Arts and Design program. Her focus is textiles.